We're still in the midst of the international break, so what better time to talk about one of City's finest Welsh internationals? Let Terri Westgate take you through her affection for a certain Mr Roberts.
I have been attending Norwich matches since September 1990, following my circuitous journey to
Carrow Road. I had just missed out on a couple of great seasons for the club, but the early 90s proved to be the most successful period in our history.
As we all know it wasn’t to last. Relegation, managers walking out, players sold. And as the 90s went
on, the hope of return to the big time dwindled as the football became more laborious. There were
few bright spots during this time, I remember being at a particularly awful afternoon at Port Vale
where we got thumped 6-1. Port Vale. SIX, one.
That was December 1996. Unbeknown to me the following month we would sign a player who
would become a City legend. A man who earned that status not by sailing through the glory years,
though his time would come, but by grabbing the team by the scruff of its collective neck, and
dragging it to the required points total each season to avoid relegation and live to fight another day.
This was a period of great change at the club, and much needed change at that. Delia and Michael
had arrived, after the disastrous end of the “Chase Out!” era. Finances were in a mess, the squad
depleted and motivation was low. It was a difficult, but necessary transition period, and some of the
matches were less than inspiring. In between falling out of the Premier League in 1995 and the
playoffs in 2002, were some very mediocre seasons and occasional flirts with relegation.
One of the main reasons we kept going, that those relegation fears never became reality, lies at the
boots of a certain Welshman. Iwan Roberts was the top goalscorer at the club for four years running
from 1998 until 2002, and I dread to think where we would have been without those goals. He was a
player who would never give up. It didn’t matter the opposition, the conditions, the crowd, how
badly we were playing; he would fight for every ball until the final whistle. He would pop up with a
goal when we didn’t deserve it, he would claw us a point in a disappointing draw and he often would
be involved in a late winner to get us three desperately needed points.
We’ve had more skilful players, and I’ve seen us play in the top flight and the UEFA Cup with
an incredibly talented team, but for sheer passion and determination, when all around him seemed
to have given up, Iwan has always been a special player. It’s no surprise most of his
former clubs also fondly remember him – with Leicester fans still occasionally singing his name.
In a former job role, based out in the wilds of Norfolk, I used to car share to save on the commute.
One day a colleague I was giving a lift to mentioned he went to matches in the late 90s. He calls
himself a Chelsea fan, though the nearest he gets to a game is watching on TV. However, we had a
chat about watching Norwich back then, and I mentioned Iwan’s name. He uttered the words “He
wasn’t a very good player, was he…” – well reader, I nearly stopped the car there and then and
made him walk the rest of the way.
How could anyone who had experienced that time be so dismissive about the big man? I admit I did
go on a bit of a rant, and he quickly backtracked and tried to explain himself. It’s fair to say I’ve
never thought as well of him since.
For all true Norwich fans Iwan is a hero. Twice named player of the season, and scoring an incredible
97 goals in 306 appearances, he had one of the best ever send offs at Crewe after we had been
promoted as champions.
Although he had a great leaving party, it was sad to see him depart after seven years of service and
before he had the chance to prove himself in the top flight. His presence was sorely missed, and his
hard work and tenacity up front was not replaced until we signed a certain Mr Holt from Shrewsbury
The much used cliché when talking about foreign or fancy footballers, is asking if they would be able
to perform on a cold Wednesday night in Stoke. Well Iwan would. And in the wind and snow, and at
Bolton, Grimsby and of course Ipswich Town. From the 1st to the 93rd minute. He’d be chasing down
defenders, getting in the way of opposition keepers, and giving fans hope the game is not over
yet. Football needs players like Iwan Roberts, Norwich legend and Wales’ number nine.
Two things; first, did you know we have a new podcast? It's available via iTunes and Soundcloud. Alternatively you can just listen to it in your browser via our podcast page. Di Cunningham will be joining us for the second episode, coming later this week.
Secondly, to keep AlongComeNorwich advert free and to help us fund additional initiatives aimed at improving the Carrow Road atmosphere, we occasionally produce exclusive t-shirts.
To celebrate the latest Barclay classic chant, Farkelife we've done another one. As always, we take no profit from these and put all the revenue back into the site and things we can all enjoy.